NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP)—Vladimir Orszagh celebrated his first three-goal game in the NHL in style, with hats everywhere—stacked above him in his locker, another plopped on his head and more piled up around his legs.
“It’s very special,” he said. “I will remember this day forever. There’s no doubt about it. I’m just happy. I couldn’t be any happier now.”
Orszagh, playing in his 214th NHL game, scored a goal in the first period, assisted on Denis Arkhipov’s power-play goal in the second and padded the lead with two goals in the third. His last goal was unassisted at 10:28 as he beat Martin Biron stickside.
Tomas Vokoun, who stopped 22 shots in winning his fifth straight start, said Orszagh was unbelievable.
“Tonight was his night, and I’m really happy for him,” Vokoun said.
Nashville coach Barry Trotz had been worried because his Predators were playing their seventh game in 11 days, a stretch that included a four-game trip to the West Coast. But he said Orszagh helped them get off to a quick start.
“As soon as he scored, that sort of jumpstarted our bench,” Trotz said.
The Predators, who have won eight of their last 10, never trailed in moving two games above .500 (12-10-1-0) for the first time this late in a season in the expansion team’s six-year history. Orszagh said the Predators know it’s too early to be thinking too far ahead.
“I would say this is probably tip of iceberg right now,” Orszagh said. “We’ve got a long way to go.”
Maxim Afinogenov scored for Buffalo, which lost its only game against Nashville this season to extend a winless skid in the series to four straight.
“It wasn’t our best effort,” Buffalo captain Chris Drury said. “They were moving their feet pretty good. We couldn’t keep up.”
Both teams won games Friday, but the Predators looked much fresher after beating Boston in the afternoon.
Orszagh scored his sixth goal just 1:48 in on a breakaway off an assist from Hamhuis, and Nashville outshot Buffalo 10-6 in the first period.
The Sabres, who gave up a season-low 19 shots in beating Florida 4-3 on Friday night in Buffalo, didn’t get going until the second period. Afinogenov easily beat Vokoun with a shot from near the top of the left circle and tied it at 1 at 2:36.
They outshot Nashville 14-12 in the period, but that was it for the Sabres who took only three shots in the third.
“The goal to start the third period was a killer,” Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff said. “We let it all hang out in the second and played as good as we possibly could.”
Orszagh helped the Predators regain the lead on a power play at 7:52 in the second. He was in front of the crease when he took a pass from Erat, skated away one step and backhanded the puck to Arkhipov, who scored.
Then, Orszagh scored on a breakaway off an assist from Erat at 1:39 of the third, beating Biron just inside the right post as the goalie tried to stop thepuck with feet.
Orszagh’s hat trick was the fifth in the Predators’ history, and first since Nov. 27, 2002, when Andreas Johansson had three against San Jose. … Nashville remained undefeated when Orszagh scores, improving to 6-0 this season. … The Predators are 4-2-0-0 when wearing their gold—third—jersey this season. … Nashville is the only NHL franchise Miroslav Satan has not scored against. … The Predators have killed all 17 penalties faced in theirlast four games. … Vokoun has eight victories in his last nine starts.